Loaded field in Ohio
The Memorial is traditionally one of the best fields in golf. The reasoning is simple: Everyone pays homage to Jack Nicklaus, which makes a whole lot of sense.
This week is no different. Here are five golf thoughts as I strive to find ways to write about sports on a Which Way Wednesday that could easily slide off the rails:
> Tiger is back. That's always a good thing, friends. If Tiger plays like he did in the The Match with Peyton, Phil and Brady, Eldrick will be in contention on Sunday;
> Speaking of Tiger, on multiple occasions, playing pros have claimed that playing with Tiger is like starting a round 2 over because of all the crowds and the accompanying movement and noise. Tiger in a vacuum could be a birdie machine;
> Speaking of Tiger, part II, if what we all want to happen happens? (Side note: Well other than Spy, who has been a long-time Tiger hater Side question on the side note: In today's socially sensitive setting, is disliking Tiger make you the R-word? Hmmmmmm. The answer is of course not, but sadly my sarcasm likely will be someone else's reasoning. Moving on) If Tiger is in the final group, how big a TV number will Sunday generate? I say it will be Masters-like big if Tiger's contending.
> Baylor School trio is in the field. Luke List (7:11 a.m. with Alex Noren and Matthew Fitzpatrick), Keith Mitchell (8:17 a.m. with Patrick Reed and Sebastián Muñoz) and Harris English (1:50 p.m. with Denny McCarthy) will tee it up Thursday at those times with those players. English will be a notable story Thursday night considering this is his first event since we learned he had The Corona. Speaking of groups, man, The Golf Channel will have live coverage starting at 2:30 Thursday and the threesome of Tiger, Rory and Brooks Koepka will put a peg in the ground at 1:17. Yeah, here's betting there will be a few cameras following that group no? (Sorry Spy.)
> Who wins? Tiger would be a wonderful story. Bryson DeChambeau's recent domination certainly is intriguing. He's playing with Collin Morikawa, who won last week on this very course. Heck Daniel Berger is back on the course — and yes, being excited about Daniel Berger's return seems downright silly — and he's played 32 consecutive PGA rounds under par. Give me Justin Thomas with Tiger in the top 10 and every big hitter trying to catch DeChambeau's DeChambombs off the tee.
Ah, being excited about a sporting event is wicked cool guys.
Braves new addition
So, Yaisel Puig is now part of your Atlanta Braves.
(Side note: T-minus 8 days until baseball returns. Hopefully. Let's not jinx it. Forget we said anything. Nothing to see here, just move along. Side question on the side note: Do you find yourself trying not to be excited because of the fear of letdown if something happens to delay or God forbid cancel the start of the MLB season? I know I am trying not to think about it. It's like Christmas when we were kids. You know it's out there, and you really hope you were on the nice list not the naughty list — again, sorry Spy, we know you were a naughty regular, so it's been a rough start for you today — and the passing days feel like the are passing in dog time. One December day for kids was like seven normal days before Christmas, no?)
Where were we? Yeah, Yaisel Puig.
Puig was a free agent for a long, Long, LONG. The reasons were clear. Dude has not been exemplary off the field, starting with his Jeff Gordon impression up Amnicola when he was with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
But Puig is always going to get a chance because, well, look at him. Dude is chiseled, can run, has a rocket arm and hits for power. He's a .277 career hitter in 861 games with 132 homers and 79 stolen bases. He has a lot of tools. (Side note: We are in a place that anytime anyone mentions 'tool' for the foreseeable future, we are going to feel obligated to remind everyone of the glory of Bruce Smith and Steve Harvey last weekend on Celebrity Family Feud. When asked by Harvey in Fast Money, "If Captain Hook was moonlighting as a handyman, he might replace his hook with what tool?" Smith answered quickly with the No. 1 answer, "hammer." But his partner had already said hammer so the buzzer sounded and Smith froze and when Harvey said, "Try again" the pass-rushing legend paused and said, "Penis." God bless game shows. Enjoy.)
Where were we? Oh yeah, Puig.
Dude is a bona fide, "First guy off the bus" kind of specimen, so the on-field risk for the Braves is minimal. (Side question: Maybe it's because he cut his Double-AA team here, but doesn't it feel like Puig broke into baseball with Big Papa and Pudge Rodriguez? Dude is still in his 20s. Crazy right?)
Now the questions that swirl are about his presence in the locker room, especially in terms of influence on young foreign-born stars like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies.
And right now, the Braves dugout is devoid of the leadership that melded this group into a very likable group last summer.
Josh Donaldson is in Minnesota, Freddie Freeman — clearly this team's leader — is fighting The Corona. Nick Markakis decided not to play because of the pandemic. Brian McCann is berating little leaguers somewhere for celebrating a homer and failing to "Respect the GAME!"
I'm all for the signing, because the Braves are a hot pitcher away from having as good a chance as anyone in the NL not named the Dodgers to be in position to win the whole thing. Puig's skill set adds to the list of strengths between the lines.
But is Brian Snitker strong enough to direct that talent, especially without Freeman until who knows when?
Wait, is this another sports-like topic? Holy buckets this is really fun. Oh sports, how I missed you.War Dang Sports.
Well we were close
Normally, back you know, like four-plus months ago, "Damn Nick" trending on Twitter would mean which of these:
A) Nick Saban landed another five-star DB that everyone wanted;
B) Nick Note got arrested (again) and his mug shot was a sight to behold (again);
C) Someone just saw the late and dirty hit former Auburn DT Nick Fairley delivered on Georgia QB Aaron Murray back in the day;
D) Nick Cage was being Nick Cage.
(Side quiz: How nuts is Nick Cage, well, can you pick which one of these actually is not true about Nick Cage:
> A naked home intruder ate a fudgsicle at the foot of his bed;
> He had millions of dollars of comic books stolen from his home;> He purchased a stolen dinosaur skull for $276,000;
> He did mushrooms with his dog;Answer below.)
Where were we? Oh yeah, Damn Nick trending.
Well this one happened to be Nick Cannon, who refuses to apologize for what many have called anti-Semitic comments on a podcast that was released late last month.
The details are what they are. His stupid comments included that white people can only do "evil" and more theories that follow in the Louis Farrakhan doctrine and not unlike the quotes that were in DeSean Jackson social media post that were falsely attributed to Hitler recently.
You can find them about anywhere on the interwebs, including here after Cannon was fired, but my two takeaways of this are pretty clear.
First, when we get to the point that we don't rubber neck and overreact to this stuff — be it Cannon saying white people are predisposed to evil or some yahoo waving the Stars and Bars and everyone in between — the better chance we have to get to a better place.
That transition also will be eased when folks in the same demographics don't rush to defend Cannon or the stupid flag waver and start the endless circle of "Yeah but what about" Those arguments are not designed to enlighten or exchange ideas. Those talking points are used in an effort to distract and too often derail meaningful conversations by exposing the dirt under the morality fingernails of a knucklehead like Cannon.
Yes, we had a little bit of a different view last week about Steven Jackson, but that leads us to our second observation.
Guys like Jackson, who has become a famous face at the front of the movement after George Floyd was killed, in this instance must be better than what he said last week defending DeSean Jackson because they are leaders, be them self-appointed or just organic leaders.
Because when the leaders use these kinds of radical and poisonous and inflammatory theories and words, that's when real racial war concerns become frightening. Which points to a very dangerous question about Farrakhan? Do you think he really wants racial harmony in this country, because if that happens, does he have a job or a role?
I ask in earnest.
Dang it we were so close to having an all-sports lead to the 5-at-10. For derailing that noble goal, all I can say is "Damn Nick."
This and that
— OK, would it be the most Auburn football thing ever for Tommy Tuberville to win the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate in the very-red-state of Alabama then only to lose the election to Doug Jones, the blue candidate representing the Democrats? I say that would be 100 percent Auburn, friends. One hundred percent.
— The NFL extended deals are interesting. Dak Prescott will play under the tag. Defensive lineman Chris Jones got paid by the Chiefs. It appears that Myles Garrett is going to get paid in Cleveland. Derrick Henry will play on a franchise tag for the Titans. So there's that.
— Kevin Hart has a pretty excellent LeBron James impression. (Salty language warning friends.)
— None of us know whether we will have high school football this year, and it appears that Texas high school football is even more in doubt than most. That said, here's a long-haired rising junior QB that has the goods dude. Quinn Ewers is for real. His sophomore stats for the football factory that is Southlake Carroll High School in Texas were staggering: 14 games, 72.4 percent completion rate, 4,003 yards, 45 TDs and three picks with 568 rushing yards and nine more TDs. In the highest classification in Texas friends. We all know Trevor Lawrence is the highest-regarded QB prospect since Andrew Luck, but Lawrence's stats as a sophomore in Carterville, Ga., do not really come close to Ewers.
— Former longtime SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis is back in coaching. For a middle school team. I think that's pretty cool.
Which way Wednesday starts this way
Of the crazy facts that were listed about Nick Cage, the false one was D, "He did mushrooms with his dog. He actually did mushrooms with his cat. So there's that.
Which running back, if any, would you give a big-dollar second NFL contract?
Speaking of running backs, which Titans played is the face of that franchise?
Which way will describe the Yaisel Puig signing by the Braves, good move, disaster, nothing special either way?
Which is more crazy all things considered, Snoop going from the face on the cover of Newsweek with the headline "When is Rap 2 Violent?" to cohosting a cooking show with Martha Stewart or the fact that Ice Cube went from writing "Bleep the Police" to being the Black version of Clark Griswold in the "Are We There Yet?" movies? I'll wait.
As for today, July 15, let's review.
The Rosetta Stone was found on this day in 1799. Wonder when ti started teaching people different languages?
OK, friends, we committed to a Rushmore yesterday, and on this, the 32nd birthday of Die Hard, which was released on this day in 1988, would the Bruce Willis classic make the Rushmore of most quotable movies?
Discuss, and remember the mailbag.
5-at-10: Promising next chapter for DeSean Jackson, Big news in Big 12, Recipes and Rushmore of old west nicknames